Sarah’s Story


My name is Sarah and I am the Occupational Therapist at the Deaf Academy.

I then attended St. Loyes School of Health Studies to achieve my degree in Occupational Therapy. Whilst at university, I worked every Wednesday and different evenings as a Communication Support Worker (CSW) for the Academy; helping students in partner colleges to access their learning.

I left school and trained as a Nursery Nurse where I had a placement at (the then named) Exeter Deaf School, in 1996; this is where my love for British Sign Language started and my journey with the Academy began.

I have worked as a Paediatric Occupational Therapist since I graduated in 2003, always based in Special Education Needs establishments.

Throughout my training and OT jobs in other establishments, I was on the bank staff for CSW’s at the Academy, until September 2007 when I moved to a permanent contract at the Academy.  My role has altered in ways I never imagined:

There are many great things about working at The Academy; but primarily working with amazing young people, supporting them to achieve and watching them develop into successful, resilient, confident adults. Working with the young people and their relatives/carers enables me to have a unique, privileged position to support and develop relationships throughout the family, not just the individuals themselves.

You need to be unbiased with an open mind and able to adapt easily to an ever-changing environment and situations. Being able to work as a team, socialise, communicate, be flexible and resilient are all necessary attributes. However, I feel the most important personality trait someone needs is that of a positive outlook – situations and occurrences are not always positive for the learners, but having someone who will find the positive and smile will always provide comfort and reassurance to the learners and others.

“Happiness, when a student understands a task and puts it into practice successfully”

 The Academy provides a roller-coaster of emotions, to highlight a few – frustration, when you can see an individual’s potential, but they refuse to use it; pride, when a young person achieves their dream, no matter how small this may seem to others; happiness, when a student understands a task and puts it into practice successfully; sadness, when a young person leaves the Academy who you have worked with and watch grow for many years.

Overall, I feel extremely privileged and thankful to be involved in the young people’s lives and, hopefully, play a small role in helping them make positive and successful decisions.